Refinement is a term that can be interpreted in several different ways, hence the quotation marks. The way we see refinement differs from person to person. Whether it be from enjoyment, or just purely focused on the way something is created is completely up to the individual. In this article, I will elaborate on this by using the Morgan Plus 8 as a prime example.
If you read my previous piece on our friend Hans’ Traction Avant, you will know he had some more tricks up his sleeve. The tricks addressed here came in the form of a Morgan Plus 8. One that is, in my opinion, one of Morgan’s greatest cars to date, so when I got the opportunity, I was ecstatic.
Let’s quickly jump back to my use of quotation marks, which indicates an oxymoron and contradiction of sorts.
When you buy a Morgan, it is only equipped with the bare minimum. There are so few things on it that you immediately stop wondering why it is so light. Before the purchase, the moment you decide what options will be implemented into the car, there is basically nothing on it. This is why the starting price is ‘relatively’ low. Everything that is optional will take a bigger bite out of your wallet. Whereas the word ‘everything’ is normally an exaggeration of a fairly large amount, here it does really mean everything. Hans even told me about how they would charge you for something as seemingly basic as the glove compartment, which just seems a bit silly to me.
Instead of all these unnecessary expenses they charge you for, they might as well fix their interior to make it look like it is a finished product. Don’t understand what I’m talking about? Have a look.
While there may not be that much to see here, believe me when I say that there really was a buttload of wires all over the place, especially in places where you could not see them at first. I might have lied about it before the picture, but that is probably for the best, which was the reason I didn’t bother to tell my father to take a picture.
Before this article is starting to look like a major bash on the guys at Morgan, I want to address the oxymoron in play, yet again.
This is for the very reason that I put the word refinement between quotation marks, to name the contradiction that lives within the vehicle in question. The fact that the Morgan is built sloppy in some areas does not mean it is a bad car. Actually, it is far from it, so instead of making it look like I am not fond of the Plus 8, let’s leave the bashing for a minute and focus on the specs of the car.
There are several versions of the Plus 8, but our dear Hans owns the 3.9l version that is equipped with the V8, which is why they cleverly called it the Plus 8. According to Hans, the V8 originates from Buick, who sold it to Rover, because of their lack of appeal to the American market. Rover, in turn, sold it to Morgan, who were in ‘desperate’ need of V8 engines for their Plus 8’s. It still manages to produce an estimated 200 hp, while the torque is even more impressive: about 600-700nm!
Because of the weight of the engine in comparison to the rest of the car, you can make the simple guess that driving might be considered quite the task. This is something Hans talks to me about in great detail. The low weight in combination with a heavy engine in front makes for interesting drifting sessions that are due to the oversteer caused by the beforementioned. The massive amounts of torque it equips, as well as the relatively large amount of horsepower produces almost too much power to handle. Knowing this, you can easily drift it to a point where you mess up because it is just out of control.
When Hans told me about this, I wondered if he ever did take it to a track, to which his answer was ‘Yes’.
As you can see in front of the grill, he has some shiny badges on there like he’s some sort of Poké master, but in reality, they are there as ‘proof’ that he is in fact part of some automobile clubs. Now, with these clubs, there were days where they would go out to tracks or open stretches of tarmac to race their Morgans. On one occasion, they drove from The Netherlands to the circuit of Zolder, in Belgium, which is not too far from our border. Another time, they managed to get their cars on an airport’s runway, where they could really push their Morgans to its limits, in contrast to Zolder. A track like that asks a lot more from you when it comes to actual driving, like shifting gears, making difficult turns, etc. When you just have this long stretch of tarmac you can do whatever the heck you want, as long as its fast and irrational.
This difference was quite significant to Hans, who felt a lot more uncomfortable on a track than he did while flooring it. Now, don’t get the impression that this feeling arose just because he drove there once. No. Numerous visits have been paid to Zolder, and every time it had the same outcome. A mild sort of fear, or for better words, anxiety. The thing is, the Plus 8 is no track car at all. You could already tell by the way it handles. The balance in general is far from great, not to mention again the way it had its finishing touches done by the people at Morgan.
Speaking of ‘finishing touches’, when Hans went to do a check-up on his car, the inspector stopped after 50 meters, because he was too scared go on any further. Still, he declared it to be working fine. This was because, in that time, the cars did not have a lot of strict criteria that they had to follow. What it managed to do at the inspection was sufficient for that time, so it was sufficient now too, oddly enough.
Editor’s Note I do have to mention that it did not at all feel unsafe when I drove along.
But what though, if I said that all of this information is completely obsolete? What would your reaction be? Would you wonder why I told you about all the downsides, just to prove to you that the complete opposite is true, and that nothing of the above has any influence on your driving experience?
Well, that is exactly what I am telling you, because that is precisely how it is. I will talk about it in more detail once I complete my driving impression, but I can honestly say that all that makes it seem like it should be a less enjoyable car, does not have any effect on your experience. It is literally smiles per miles. The V8 brings out so much sound, so much torque and so much power, complement that with the low weight and you cannot possibly do anything else than just appreciate the moment. Where it might not earn as much points on aspects that I mentioned more than enough throughout this article, it certainly nails the fun-factor. If you have seen the video by now, it shows all you need to see.
My hair is long enough as it is, so it gets tangly every now and then, but was never as bad as when I drove with Hans in the Plus 8. Three days after our session I still had trouble untangling it. Again, this did not matter, because I had experienced something extremely awesome. It was all worth it.
This is where the Morgan nails it, to the very core of that spot in your heart that knows very well what it likes best. Whatever impression it might give you at first, be it good or bad, it will make sure you enjoy every single second you spend in the car, as long as the engine is revving. The Morgan Plus 8 is, in my marginal experience with a small variety of cars, one of the best examples out there that is just solely focused on the aspect of driving fun. To prove my point: we were not the only ones to have an amazing time in a Morgan. Matt Farah and Alex Roy cannot stop laughing in Alex’s 3-wheeler!
Long story short: while it may not be the best at everything, the Morgan does get the one single thing right that so many cars these days lack: proper joy.
Have a good one,